Title: The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Publisher: Vintage (24 May 2012)
Price: Rs. 319 on Amazon
The one letter I have been waiting for throughout this A to Z challenge is N. I have been dying to talk about this book. I read this in February/March and have been saving it up for this day. Before, I hadn't heard about this book at all. One day while searching for something else on Goodreads, I accidentally ended up on this page. It has a four plus rating and almost all the reviews were talking about how magical it was. Not one for fantasy and magic, I decided to ignore that. But one thing that remained on my mind is the cover of the book. Look, how beautiful it is! One fine day, on an impulse I ordered the book. Yeah, just because I liked its cover. I bought the vintage edition and oh my God the cover was so damn gorgeous. There were times when I used to take the book, sit down with a cup of tea and just look at its cover. I can be cuckoo sometimes.
I happen to have the habit of carrying a book with me in my bag at all times. I'd omit this only if the bag I decide to carry is a satchel or a sling or too small to hold a book. Which is why more often than not I carry a tote and a whole another world within it. When my mom was hospitalized in February and March, and I was with her at the hospital, I decided to start reading this book because this was what I was carrying. After admiring the cover again for ten minutes, I finally started reading the book. Five pages later, I was truly, madly and deeply in love! It was all about fantasy and magic and since I was going through to a dark period at that time, it seemed to be perfect to take my mind elsewhere. There was magic in every page and it transported me to another place. During the next few days, when I was not thinking about my mom, I was only thinking about Le Cirque des Rêves.
The Night Circus is a phantasmagorical fairy tale set near an historical Victorian London. Le Cirque des Rêves or the circus of dreams is a wandering circus that is open only from sunset to sunrise. The circus arrives without warning. It has no fixed schedule or advertising, it just comes and goes. One day, the field lies empty and then one fine day, the circus has arrived! Nobody knows how they travel and what transport is used to commute, but nobody has seen it either. The circus is the most beautiful thing that anyone has ever seen. Right from the giant clock to the delicious food that they serve. It is beyond compare. While the main purpose of the circus is entertainment and profit, it does serve a darker purpose. Two magicians, Prospero the Enchanter, and the enigmatic Mr. A.H, groom their young proteges, Celia Bowen and Marco Alistair, to proxy their rivalry with the exhibits as a stage. Celia is Prospero's daughter and Marco is someone A.H just picked off the streets. Well, literally.
Both Prospero and A.H want to win this battle of magic. The venue for the test is the circus, but Celia and Marco are not aware of who their opponent is. While Marco becomes an assistant to Chandresh, the proprietor of the circus, Celia becomes an illusionist in it. Both go on day after day, performing their duties and very aware of the battle that can begin any time. Or has it begun already? While the circus moves from location to location, fans of the circus form a network calling themselves "rêveurs" or dreamers; they identify each other by adding a splash of red to their garb that otherwise matches the characteristic black and white of the circus tents. They inform each other of the location of the circus whenever it comes into town.
Poppet and Widget are twins and are born to a circus performer on the opening night. But they are not ordinary. There is something magical about them. But then again, there is something magical about everyone who is involved with the circus. While some do not age, some have their memories altered. As beautiful as the circus is, there is nothing normal about it. A lot of things are hidden under the name of magic here. While the game between Celia and Marco (who still have no idea that they are each others opponent) is still on, there are a lot of things that is amiss. A lot is at stake for the circus to go on, but who will take responsibility for that? When the magic ends, what will be left of the circus? Plus, there also is a keen circus goer called Bailey. What about him?
The Night Circus was written by Erin Morgenstern for the annual writing competition NaNoWriMo over the span of three NaNoWriMos. This itself is so brilliant. When I say that I was in love with the book after reading five pages of it, I wasn't exaggerating. This book clearly is one of the best books that I've ever read. Right from the narration to the character sketching, everything is spot on. The author paints a dream and I was totally consumed by it. The imagination that she has used to write this is something beyond what you and I can devise. There is so much of perfection in this one book that I can re-read it a million times and live my life just reading this one book. The story moves from fantasy and magic to love, heartbreak and disappointment. Later, it moves on to murder and deceit. Then it all falls in place and comes full circle and back to magic. But the journey is not easy. Read it to believe it.
Without a doubt, this book has made it to the top three of my favorite books list. The book was released in 2011 and I curse myself for not having heard about this book until now. There is absolutely nothing that I can flaw in this book. Nothing. This was the book that kept me sane throughout the trying time. This was the magic that I needed in my life to stay strong for my mom. This was the book I was looking for all these years. The book that would make me say "WOW" with every word. Now it lies safely in that section of my bookshelf that I call "Treasure".
Verdict: If you haven't read this, you don't know what you are missing. Do yourselves a favor, read it as soon as you can.
Rating: 5 out of 5. I'd give it a 500 on 5 if I could.